Politics: Not even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews & Andrea Mitchell are buying the BS in Obama’s State of the Union…

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    He’s “not close to reality.”

For five years, Barack Obama has been able to count on two things. The first was a disorganized, timid GOP. The second was the sound of constant, fawning, almost orgasmic adulation coming from the MSNBC studios. While the jury is still out on Republican efforts to mount a successful resistance to Obama’s policies, it looks like MSNBC is getting tired of talking about his alleged foreign policy “successes.” In the wake of the State of the Union address it appears the “tingle” is gone.

Check out what left-wing stalwart Chris Matthews had to say about the President’s self-described foreign policy victories:

    I kept thinking tonight that there’s a real world out there he didn’t really talk about, and had perhaps overambitious notions about where we stood in the war against ISIL – the Islamic State. He doesn’t want to call it the Islamic State, but that’s what they call themselves. Those two Japanese people, with no guilt on their shoulders – just staring there out of the desert – who are going to be apparently decapitated. …That reality – what’s going on in Nigeria is reality. How close was the President to reality overall, globally, tonight?

Wow. That’s actual skepticism from Chris Matthews! He must be back on his meds. Andrea Mitchell replied:

    I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality. They have not come up with a strategy. And they built a global coalition but, again, he’s talked about Ukraine, he’s talked about Putin being isolated. Yes, Putin is isolated economically and the falling oil prices have hammered his economy. But at the same time, there’s renewed fighting in Donetsk, and we haven’t figured out Ukraine, we haven’t figured out how the NATO alliance can push back. Sanctions have not really worked, and Ukraine is going to need more weaponry, and they have not reached that point. So… you’re right, Chris, it doesn’t match the reality.

Could it be that, despite everything we’ve assumed, there actually is a breaking point for the folks at MSNBC? Has the moment arrived where, despite their love for their fringe liberal ideals, they’ve realized how ridiculous they sound when they laud this President’s nonexistent “accomplishments?”

Probably not.

More likely, the Charlie Hebdo attack finally stripped them of their faith in progressive invulnerability. It sounds like they’ve finally figured out that their usual plan – involving politically correct maneuvering and sympathy for the enemy – isn’t working anymore.

How sad to think that the brilliant minds at the left wing network of record were loathe to acknowledge the President’s detachment until the media became a target of radical Islam. …But it appears that may be what’s happened.

FINANCIAL AGENCY DOWNGRADES RUSSIA’S CREDIT RATING TO 1 NOTCH ABOVE JUNK LEVEL

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    The international ratings agency has knocked Russia’s credit rating down a peg, while warning that ‘growth may not return until 2017,’ as the national economy struggles amid sanctions and tumbling oil prices.

Fitch Ratings Inc, with dual headquarters in New York and London, downgraded Russia’s credit rating to BBB- from BBB, which is just one step away from the non-investment field.

While not yet the worst rating, Fitch nevertheless predicted a rough road ahead for the Russian economy, which has witnessed a dramatically weakened ruble together with steadily declining oil prices.

Fitch said Russia’s Gross Domestic Product will decrease by four percent this year, which is significantly worse than the 1.5 percent decline it had anticipated.

“Growth may not return until 2017,” Fitch warned.

A storm of factors, including plummeting oil prices, turbulence with the national currency and sanctions slapped against the country in the aftermath of the Ukrainian debacle, have made the Russian economy particularly vulnerable.

In June, Brent crude was trading at more than $111; on Friday, it was less than $50 a barrel, while the ruble was trading at 63 against the dollar. In an intervention effort to offset the declining ruble, Russia’s dollar reserves took a hit, tumbling from $511 billion to $388 billion over the course of a year.

“Plunging oil prices have exposed the close link between growth and oil price [in Russia],” Fitch added.

It then lectured on Russia’s overdependence on natural resources: “Commodity dependence is high: energy products account for almost 70 percent of merchandise exports and 50 percent of federal government revenue, exposing the public finances and the balance of payments to external shocks.”

The ratings agency also warned that Russian inflation, which hit 11.4 percent at the end of 2014, would remain stuck in the double-digits before dropping to 8.5 percent next year.

The prospects of the [Russian Central Bank] realizing its end-2015 inflation target of 4.5 percent now look remote, particularly if the exchange rate falls further, potentially leading to still higher interest rates,” Fitch predicted.

There were some silver linings, however, in the cloudy report with the ratings agency predicting that oil prices will increase to about $70 a barrel this year.

In the event that oil stays at its present historic lows, “it could precipitate a deeper recession and put further strain on public finances, severely limiting the authorities’ room for maneuver.”

Russia’s economic woes aren’t limited to the country itself. Europe, Russia’s largest trading partner, is feeling the pressure from loss of trade with its huge neighbor.

This week, French President Francois Hollande expressed deep concern over what sort of impact Russia’s economic downturn might have on Europe, going so far as to demand an end to the sanctions.

“If Russia has a crisis, it is not necessarily good for Europe,” Hollande said during a two-hour interview with radio station France Inter. “I’m not for the policy of attaining goals by making things worse, I think that sanctions must stop now.”

MORE RUSSIA SANCTIONS TO PROVOKE ‘DANGEROUS SITUATION’ IN EUROPE – GERMAN VICE-CHANCELLOR

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Following Western restrictions, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imported food

Tougher sanctions against Russia could destabilize the country and provoke an “even more dangerous” situation in Europe and have negative consequences for the entire world, German Vice-Chancellor Economic Affairs and Energy Minister has warned.

“Those who want it, provoke an even more dangerous situation for all of us in Europe,” Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

“Those who are seeking to even more destabilize Russia from the economic and political point of view are pursuing quite different goals.”

The goal of sanctions against Russia was to return Moscow to the negotiating table to find ways for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, he said.

He elaborated that additional sanctions may exclude Moscow from partnership in the resolution of conflicts which “will have very dangerous consequences for the entire world.”

Though there are some in the US and EU that “would like to floor their superpower rival,” but it is not in the interest of Germany or Europe, he stated.

“We want to help solve the conflict in Ukraine, not to force Russia to its knees,” he stressed.

The US and EU slapped Russia with several rounds of sanctions, starting in March after Crimea joined Russia. Western nations have accused Russia of annexing Crimea, though Moscow has denied the claims stressing that residents of the peninsula voted in favor of the notion in a referendum that was in line with the international law and the UN Charter. The first round of Western sanctions targeted Russian officials and companies and included visa bans and asset freezes.

The second round of sanctions that put pressure on financial, energy, and defense sectors was announced in July with the US and EU blaming Moscow for involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has denied the claims.

Following Western restrictions, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the US and Norway in August.

France’s largest farming association – the National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Operators (FNSEA) – said in August that Russia’s ban could push Europe into a market crisis.

The Netherlands, Germany, and Poland were Russia’s biggest food suppliers in the EU. The US shipped $1.6 billion worth of food to Russia in 2013. Prior to the sanctions Russia imported 36.7 percent of its meat, 32.6 percent of dairy, eggs, and honey, 30.4 percent of vegetables, and 24.2 percent of fruit from the EU, according to 2014 trade data.

A new sanctions package was pushed by the West a few days after the Minsk agreement was signed on September 5, which included a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to France 24 in Moscow in December that “if this is what Europe has as a reaction to something positive, then I once again can only say that we hugely overestimated European independence in foreign policy.”

He recalled the public statement made by US Vice President Joe Biden that America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion. “I don’t believe [the sanctions] help Europe,” Lavrov said.

Does America realize the consequences of forcing Russia into China’s arms?

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In Ukraine, the US is cutting off its nose to spite its face, as it transforms a regional struggle over “spheres of influence” into a global one. Unless the runaway train is swiftly derailed, the world faces a 21st century standoff between east and west.

In 867AD, Æbbe the Younger, Mother Superior of the convent at Coldingham in Scotland cut off her nose and upper lip and urged her fellow nuns to also disfigure themselves. It wasn’t for sacrificial reasons; it was because Viking raiders had landed nearby and the Abbess feared they would rape the community and deprive them of their chastity. By destroying their appearance, Mother Æbbe, correctly, guessed the Nordic marauders would show no interest. She was right – the Vikings were so disgusted that they burned the entire convent to the ground.

From this event was born the phrase “cutting off the nose to spite the face.” Although the original circumstances were slightly different, the term is a warning against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage the instigator more than the object of the anger. The USA is doing precisely this in its current attitude to Russia. By “punishing” Russia for resisting Western attempts to “grab” Ukraine, it is laying the foundations for a far more serious estrangement.

A feud that began when President Putin stymied the hopes of elements in Washington to wage war with Syria now has the potential to reshape the entire world. You all know the story by now, neocon factions in the State Department took revenge against Putin’s perceived stubbornness by ratcheting up tensions in Ukraine, leading to a violent revolution and civil war. The Crimean people voted to rejoin Russia and Washington, in tandem with the EU, imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Except they weren’t the kind of sanctions designed to damage Russia’s ability to defend itself. Instead, they were clearly aimed at regime change by targeting close supporters of the Russian President. Subsequently, the short-sighted sanctions led to unprecedented approval ratings for Putin as the Russian people rallied around their leader. In their eyes, an attack on their President was an attack on the nation. What the State Department meddlers didn’t countenance is that Russians, with high levels of education, are too savvy to be hoodwinked by playground tactics.

Since then, bilateral relations between the White House and the Kremlin have reached their lowest point since the Russian Federation was founded in 1991. This has happened only 4 years after Putin advocated a free trade agreement between the EU and Russia. “A harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” as he wrote in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time.

In 48 months we have gone from a prospective giant Western alliance, with Russia at its centre, to a situation where Russia is now ready to possibly join an Eastern alliance led, to all intents and purposes, by China. We know neocons aren’t the brightest lights in the firmament but are they really this stupid?

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If you didn’t know the personalities involved and were asked to suggest the obvious alignment of the world, you’d probably say that Russia’s place was in the European camp. It shares a Christian faith with the rest of the continent and has always been at least a “slightly” European power – much like the United Kingdom.

In truth, Russia has little in common with Asian cultures, aside from geography. Even in the far eastern outpost of Vladivostok (which is on the far side of China), an Italian is far more likely to blend in than a Malaysian. This is not related to appearance – there are many ethnic east-Asians in the region, who regard themselves as thoroughly Russian and, by virtue, European. Indeed there are millions of people east of the Urals who have actually never set foot in what is generally considered to be Europe, but describe themselves as being Europeans. It’s a state of mind but, then again, Europe has always been as much an idea as a place.

For years commentators have speculated: “imagine Russia’s resources and military power with Western Europe’s technology and fiscal heft?” It would, of course, be the single most powerful economic and martial bloc in the world. Not only that, but such a rapprochement makes complete sense and has done since 1991.

However, it is Washington’s worst nightmare. An EU-Russia alliance and partial union would erode America’s influence in Europe. Hence, to knock it on head, just as it seemed Germany was warming to the notion, the US has managed to drive a massive wedge between Moscow and its natural allies in Europe.

Before they clap themselves on the back too loudly, the Americans might want to pause for a second. In pursuing this haphazard course, they’ve managed to send Russia hurtling into China’s warm embrace.

Thus, cutting off their nose to spite their face. Instead of allowing a tri-polar world, the US in control of the Americas, China in Asia, and a giant Eurasian alliance as a buffer – Washington has managed to create a much more confrontational bi-polar world. In the blue corner, the USA and a castrated, divided Europe which is being pulled in all kinds of directions and in the red corner, a resurgent China and a Russia that, most likely, would prefer to be in a different corner altogether, or none,

This is the way the US State Department wishes the world to be – in a constant state of chaos. Now, instead of a US-EU-Russia detente, they have managed to manufacture a new Cold War for the 21st century with Ukraine as the new Berlin.

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With Russia alienated by the West and China eager to buy high-end weaponry, a joint military pact seems the likely outcome. Concurrently, the previously zombie-like NATO has awoken like a pensioner who was discovered house music and fancies a last youthful dance.

If a Moscow-Beijing military alliance does take shape, such a bloc would dominate the Eurasian landmass, with naval bases all the way from the Baltic, via the Arctic and Pacific, to the South China Sea. A union between Russia’s advanced weaponry and China’s huge population and industrial muscle would eventually prove a match for NATO, thereby giving the US an excuse to ratchet up military spending. If Europe attempted to follow suit, it would likely deepen its economic malaise. The main point is that the whole notion is such an incredibly wasteful use of finite global resources.

The confrontation between Russia and the West is a gift that keeps on giving for China. Just as the self-destruction of the Euro-centric world a century ago allowed the building a new US-centric system, the weakening of the US will probably result in China becoming the world’s leading power. Europe’s last chance to stake its own claim, has evaporated into thin air thanks to a bone-headed, subservient (to Washington) strategy in eastern part of the continent. Europe’s inability to separate the European Union from the archaic NATO has been its undoing.

Four years after Putin proposed a Russian-EU alliance from “Lisbon to Vladivostok,” we instead have an embryonic new Cold War. It’s not too late to halt the wagons but time is limited. The next US administration, if it’s sufficiently blessed to be shorn of neocons, must decide which is more important to it: to antagonize Russia in the eastern borderlands, losing its world hegemony in the process, or to find a way of resolving friction with Moscow, thus halting the process of China’s accession to the role of global superpower.

UNESCO: CRIMEA PART OF UKRAINE, NOT RUSSIA

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UNESCO’s Executive Board voted Thursday to recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine, not Russia

KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 24 (UPI) — The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has affirmed Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine.
Ukrainian deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kyslytsya announced on Twitter Thursday that “UNESCO has confirmed that Crimea belongs to Ukraine irrespective of what Russia says and how [it] tries to bluff its way [through the Russian-Ukrainian crisis].”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that UNESCO’s Executive Board convened Thursday, voting overwhelmingly in favor of recognizing Crimea as part of Ukraine. Three out of the 25 member countries voted against.

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The Ukrainian government continues to refute Russia’s claim of control over Crimea. On June 26, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that “Our relations cannot be normalized [with Russia] without the return of Crimea.”

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/10/24/UNESCO-Crimea-part-of-Ukraine-not-Russia/3201414166481/#ixzz3H5L3kCyH

RUSSIA, IRAN TO BOYCOTT US DOLLAR IN BILATERAL TRADE

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Russia and China also agreed to trade with each other using the ruble and yuan

by WORLD BULLETIN | OCTOBER 2, 2014

The move away from the U.S. dollar is yet another reaction to Western sanctions placed on Russia since it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.

Russia and Iran have agreed to use their own national currencies in bilateral trade transactions rather than the U.S. dollar.

Iran’s IRNA news agency reported that the plans were announced in a meeting on Tuesday in Tehran by Iranian business magnate and head of the Iran-Russia Joint Chamber of Commerce, Asadollah Asgaroladi.

An original agreement to trade in rials and rubles was made earlier this month in a meeting between Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

Similarly, Russia and China also agreed to trade with each other using the ruble and yuan in early September, following a Russian deal with North Korea in June to trade in rubles.

The move away from the U.S. dollar is yet another reaction to Western sanctions placed on Russia since it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.

In response to sanctions on Russia by the European Union, Russia has also threatened to cut off Europes gas supply and close its air space to European airlines. Russia has also boycotted European food imports, in a move likely to affect farmers in the EU.

NATO stages massive military drills in Latvia

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The exercises in Latvia will be followed by other drills in Germany, Norway, Ukraine, and Poland later this autumn

As seven-day NATO military exercises continue to take place in Latvia, the organization says the drills are aimed at showing its commitment to Baltic member states in the face of an “assertive” Russia.

Exercise Steadfast Javelin 2, which kicked off on September 2, simulates the deployment of NATO soldiers and equipment during a crisis situation. A total of around 2,000 soldiers from nine different countries are taking part in the maneuvers, which will carry on until Monday.

On Friday night, around 500 paratroopers landed at Lielvarde airport, located about 60 km from Latvia’s capital, Riga.

“We want to assure our people that we are able to protect them. Certainly on top of this we send a clear message to everyone who wants to threaten NATO, that it’s not a thing you should do. NATO will always defend and protect its people,” General Hans-Lothar Domrose, commander of the NATO military command in Brunssum, Netherlands, told reporters.

The exercises in Latvia will be followed by other drills in Germany, Norway, Ukraine, and Poland later this autumn.

Steadfast Javelin 2 was reinforced by a NATO summit in Wales, where the bloc officially announced it was creating a new rapid reaction force. The spearhead of any such force would consist of 4,000-5,000 troops who would be able to deploy to any NATO member country within 48 hours.

“It needs to be a relatively light force. It needs to be a force that succeeds, builds upon intelligence and agility, and precision as opposed to weight of military force. It is an agile, precise, intelligence-led rapidly deployable force,” Lieutenant General Ed Davis, NATO deputy land commander, told Reuters.

After 10 years of placing emphasis on military activity in Afghanistan, the alliance is now refocusing on what it refers to as the defense of its members.

The UK has agreed to provide up to 1,000 personnel in the multi-national force, which will be based in Eastern Europe. There are already 1,500 British troops involved in exercises in Baltic countries and an extra 2,000 will be deployed over the next two years.

Baltic states have been seeking backup from NATO, claiming they fear that Russia could use the same rationale as it did in Crimea to justify an attack on them. Large Russian speaking minorities live in Baltic the region – in Latvia, for instance, they account for some 26 percent (over 520,000 people) of the total population.

The announcement was met with dismay in Moscow, which said that NATO was using the crisis in Ukraine to push its military presence closer to Russia’s borders.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the new force would sabotage the fragile peace process in eastern Ukraine.

“Together with the rhetoric at the summit, and the planned military exercises before the end of the year, this will increase tension, destabilization the nascent peace process, and further widen the division in Ukraine,” the ministry’s statement said.

As tensions remain high in Ukraine, a US Navy destroyer, a Canadian fregate and, reportedly, a French frigate have entered the Black Sea. A Spanish warship is reportedly on its way there as well.